Geoff Neal faces Shavkat Rakhmonov at first UFC event of 2023


Geoff Neal will face Shavkat Rakhmonov in a three-round welterweight matchup at a UFC Fight Night event on Jan. 14.

Multiple sources confirmed the booking with MMA Fighting on Saturday, following an initial report by ESPN.

Currently the No. 8-ranked welterweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, Rakhmonov is one of the most exciting prospects in all of MMA. The 27-year-old Kazakh fighter known as “Nomad” sports a perfect 16-0 record, with all of his victories coming by way of stoppage. Since making his UFC debut in 2020, Rakhmonov has won four fights in a row, and hopes to solidify his position as a top contender for the welterweight title.

A product of the Contender Series, the 32-year-old Neal is coming off the biggest win of his career, a sensational third-round knockout of Vicente Luque at UFC Vegas 59. The win moved Neal’s overall UFC record up to 7-2, with notable victories over Belal Muhammad and Santiago Ponzinibbio. He is currently the No. 9-ranked welterweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings.

A previously reported middleweight bout between Kelvin Gastelum and Nassourdine Imavov is set to headline the Jan. 14 event.

Damon Martin and Mike Heck contributed to this report.